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Friday night football

The game of football continues its remarkable run as the No. 1 Friday night sporting event in Hartselle. 

I was reminded of that Friday when I drove past J.P. Cain Stadium and witnessed its parking lots filled with cars and pickup trucks. The varsity Tigers were hosting a dress rehearsal for their fans in preparation for their season-opening game against Austin on the road Aug. 23. 

Fans were drawn to the seasonal preview to get a first-hand look at what to expect in the 2019 season. 

Playing football at the high school level was a dream of mine when I enrolled in the 10th grade at Lineville High School in 1950. 

The LHS Aggies was a team with a proud tradition, and earning the privilege of wearing its red-and-black uniform was a daunting task for any first-year prospect. My chance for success was questionable. I weighed 125 pounds soaking wet and was a middle-of-the-pack runner in junior high school competitions. 

Additionally, I had to overcome the resistance of my father, who never played the game and was not a big fan. 

“You know it’s harvest time, and your help is needed,” he reminded me. “If you play football, you’ll be expected to keep up with your work here.” 

Those of us who had farm work to do after school were released from practice in time to catch the school bus. City boys were encouraged to spend additional time on the practice field. 

The first two days of practice in shorts and helmets were difficult but tolerable. Most of us were in good physical shape but suffered from “dry mouth” because water was not permitted on the practice field.

On the third day, we were allowed to wear pads. Us newcomers were tested for toughness against the first-team offense. We played at the middle linebacker position against a T-formation backfield. Our mission was to shed the block of a 185-pound fullback and tackle the ball carrier. 

Play after play, I would get run over by the fullback and barely see the ball carrier as he ran free. 

I carried the nicks, bruises and sore muscles from that practice into the second day of scrimmage and was thrilled when the coach called my name to step in at right halfback. The first time I carried the ball, I was met at the line of scrimmage by the same fullback who whipped me the day before when I was playing linebacker.

My claim to fame came in a B-team game later in the season, when I scored my first and only touchdown. The end of that season ended my football career, as I decided I could help the team more by cheering them on from the stands.

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